Heart of the Arts? Try Heart of the MOLD.
For a small town, Moscow (say Mos-coh, not Mos-KOW) isn't really that bad. It is ridiculously expensive to live here, but there are a lot of natural recreation options, a few cute little stores, some nice restaurants, and a fun local culture (if a bit snobby/yuppie/liberal/hippie in some areas).
However...I feel that I must caution the potential resident of Moscow: mold grows on EVERYTHING here and the water is AWFUL.
I'll start with the mold. Since we moved here a couple years ago, we have had a pervasive mold problem. From the black mold that keeps appearing on our walls in different locations throughout the house, to the pink mold in our bathtub, we have had to battle mold every step of the way. It grows on the baseboards, the windowsills and screens, in the closets, and in the sinks. It grows EVERYWHERE. It even grows under the water in the toilet bowls.
Now, before you write me off as a bad housekeeper...I'm not. I clean regularly, and I have tried a bunch of natural and chemical cleaners to permanently kill the mold, with no luck. We've even called our maintenance man repeatedly about this. He says it's just the way of life in Moscow, and he deals with it on a regular basis. It has caused everyone in my family a lot of really nasty health problems that are "magically" cured whenever we go out of town for a few days.
The funny thing is, I don't know what it is about Moscow that causes the aggressive mold! This hasn't happened anywhere else we have lived, including a very moist part of the midwest...so it's probably not the humidity. I have no idea!
So, yeah. There's that. Now, the water.
Showering here is an adventure...and not in a good way. You leave the tub with a film of whitish scum all over your body, which wipes off onto your towels in clumps that look like dry skin, but are not. The longer you shower, the thicker the scum gets. It also hardens onto your bathtub walls in a thick, hard-as-nails, layer. We have had to use a pumice stone to even attempt to get ours off!
Not to bring up the maintenance man again...but he says that it's essentially an unsolvable problem that is pervasive throughout Moscow because of the well water. (In our particular complex, I feel like they don't even try to clean it off before they rent the units. When we moved in we thought the bathtub walls were a brownish-cream color. They are actually stark WHITE underneath all the gunk.)
There is so much sediment in the water here that we pull thick brownish black goop out of the sink drains when we clean. We have to use drain cleaner every month or so, or our sinks back up...and we drink bottled water exclusively!
Overall, living in Moscow is kind of like going back to the eighties. Almost everything closes too early, and the movie theaters don't have midnight showings most of the time, but your kids are safe playing in the neighborhoods, and there is very little major crime.
Most people are friendly (though there is a distinct class system here, as well as a general air of snobbery and holier-than-thou attitudes in certain parts of the population) and having all the college students leave town in the summer is a nice change of pace. (You get all the college town conveniences, with none of the college town partying!)
This is a great place for a prepper (who doesn't mind the mold and nasty water!) for young people going to school, or for people who just want a relatively quiet, humid place to live.
That being said: I wouldn't move here again in ten thousand years. It's not worth the health problems from mold and bad water, dealing with the insanely high cost of living (particularly utilities!) and avoiding the elitists who glare at you if you even TOUCH a conventionally produced carrot--let alone BUY one.
Speaking of which, there's this weird issue with the imported produce here...almost like a blight that happens to the fruit and veg in the winter. It will look alright on the outside, but it will be black on the inside. It happens all the time, and we haven't been able to figure out why. (Yet another thing that has never happened anywhere else I've lived!)
Oh, and I don't know if it matters to most people, but there is a massive LDS population here. Not that there's anything wrong with someone being LDS...it's just not for me, and it does get pushed a LOT here.
Anyway, I was super excited to move here, but now I'm even MORE excited to be leaving!!!
J | Moscow, ID